There has been a lot of talk these days about cinnamon. According to some studies, cinnamon may improve blood glucose and cholesterol levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. The results of a study from 2003 in Pakistan showed lower levels of fasting glucose, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol after 40 days with levels continuing to drop for 20 days after that.
The study was made up of 60 people with Type 2 diabetes who were divided into 6 groups of 10. Three groups received cinnamon in the form of capsules totaling 1, 3 or 6 grams of cinnamon a day. The other three groups received placebo capsules. The capsules were taken three times a day, after meals. All three levels of cinnamon showed results, leading researchers to believe that as little as 1 gram a day of cinnamon may benefit people who have Type 2.
There has been some debate in this country on whether "true" cinnamon was used for the study. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are two types of cinnamon sold in the United States; cinnamomum zeylanicum nees or cinnamomum cassia (L.) blume. Most of the cinnamon sold in our grocery stores is cinnamomum cassia. The Pakistani study does list cinnamomum cassia as the cinnamon that was used.
Richard A. Anderson, Ph.D., CNS, of the the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), is one of the original researchers in the Pakistan study. The BHNRC is under the United States Department of Agricuture (USDA). From results of his continued study of the components of cinnamon and their effect on blood glucose and cholesterol, he states,
"We have also shown that the active components of cinnamon are found in the water-soluble portion of cinnamon and are not present in cinnamon oil, which is largely fat-soluble. In addition to ground cinnamon consumed directly, one can also make a cinnamon tea and let the solids settle to the bottom or use cinnamon sticks, which make for a nice clear tea. Cinnamon can also be added to orange juice, oatmeal, coffee before brewing, salads, meats etc. The active components are not destroyed by heat."
Based on these studies, it seems that cinnamon may lower blood glucose, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in people with Type 2 diabetes. The fact that studies so far have involved a small amount of people and have not yet explored the long term benefits of cinnamon, would lead to the conclusion that there may not be enough evidence gathered yet, to support cinnamon as a major player against Type 2. But adding more cinnamon to already healthy lifestyle changes probably wouldn't hurt either.
Khan, MS, PHD, Alam, Safdar, MS, Mahpara, Ali Khan, MS, PHD, Mohammad Muzaffar, Khattak, MS, Khan Nawaz, and Anderson, PHD, Richard A.. "Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes." Diabetes Care 26(2003): 3215-3218.
Anderson, Ph.D., CNS, Richard A.. "Cinnamon, Glucose Tolerance and Diabetes." Agricultural Research Service. 08 Aug 2005. United States Department of Agriculture. 17 Nov 2006.
Photo by Spencer Ritenour